So, the same as last year i went to a 2-week “bug-out” trip to my country summerhouse. I will share my experiences with you.


My cabin is situated outside the city, practically on the edge of the huge forest. It was small plots of land “granted” by Soviet government to citizens to grow their own produce and cultivate this land so that in the future it could be permanently settled. But when Soviet Union collapsed this project was abandoned and now there exists a “ghost” settlement of summerhouses where people visit in summer to garden or to have a rest.


Technically it was my “vacation” from work, but its purpose was to practice off-the-grid, self-sustainable living.


So, i a few packages of dry peas, some buckwheat, a pack of flour, some salt, tourist gear in my backpack and im off to cabin in the wilderness for two weeks.


There my grandfather built a small brick house, a cabin in fact. There is no electricity, nor gas, nor running water. Only a hand water pump and firewood stove inside.


First day i was busy establishing the household and cooking my first on-place meal. It took me till late night, a long evening in candle light.


I intended (and eventually did) to learn to bake pita bread. First few times were not good, but then i gained some practice. :)


I gathered and ate raddishes from my garden – both the red bulbous root and greens could be eaten – did you know that? The leaves taste the same as the actual raddish!


Also there were few potatoes left on place in storage from last year – i boiled them. From the cuttings new potatoes will grow.


There is a vegetable garden where my grandmother and i grow vegetables.

 My granny’s cabbage,


my corn and squash




rhubarb and amaranth,


my raddish patch,


and my “experimental” patch where i am trying new crops, among them mustard (tiny yellow flowers).


And my topinamburs (Jerusalem artichoke).

 They’re pretty big now!


Ah, and of course, the garlic!


We have our own garlic – do not buy it ever. Its a local variety – very hardy and very strong taste.


Here, this year’s garlic crop is drying out on the attic. This will be next year’s seeds and for eating through winter. Onions are too difficult to gro and so very sensitive, and aside from all that i dont like onions, so i dont grow them. I love garlic!


Here is this plant that reproduces as weed – its sour and used in salads.

 And this is lamb’s quarters or goosefoot (Chenopodium album) – its leaves have unique flavour – it tastes to me a bit like green peas or sour cream or cabbage – rare herb that tastes like *real food*! I want to cultivate this hardy weed – will start goosefoot patch next year.


We work our land manually, by hand. Simple hand tools that have been used since the beginning of mankind.


In our garden we dont use any chemical fertilizer, nor even manure, because we dont have any animals. Only thing used is organic compost made of plant remnants.


I add organic matter in plastic container at home and then bring it to my garden and scatter right on the garden bed. Everything goes in: from vegetable cuttings, banana and orange skins, to eggshells. Doesnt look very pretty, but plants love it! I read somewhere that its called “Indian way” of gardening.


As i aim to nearly total self-sufficiency, i am saving my own seeds. For example this year’s raddish and beans and peas come from last year’s seeds.


Here you see overwintered beats, carrots and green salad (lettuce) that will go to seed this year.


There is also a fruit and berry orchard there.


Apples, cherries, plums, black and red currants, raspberry and gooseberry, and vines.


They’ve made my everyday breakfast, in other instances they are eaten straight from the bush.


Black currant, strawberry, raspberry, and cherry stalks make up a compound for a herbal “tea”.


Also i dried and stored some willow bark – it contains acetylsalicylic acid from which aspirin is made. Willow bark when boiled in water is a natural antiseptic, anti-fever aid.


Wormwood herb, drying – good for liver and digestion in general, as well as for killing worms (if there are any, LOL!).


Also, ferns are spreading on their own throughout the garden, and grandma’s flowers.


As i said all water on place is pumped with a hand pump. There is a big iron barrel outside – it is is for watering the garden. This white barrel (40 litres) here is for washing needs.

And drinking water is stored in big (5 litre) plastic bottles.


Here is a washstand i constructed. There is an old fashioned village washer and a plastic bottle hanging head down – if you fill it with water and then un-screw the cork a bit – there will be a continuous water flow.

 Water that gets used in household (“gray” water) goes to water the garden. I want to make also a roof rainwater collecting system from used plastic bottles.


My discovery – equisetacea plants is excellent to wash the dishes, especially where there is grease.

Washing clothes is done in “lyes” – ashes from the stove mixed in water produce lye. Then just wash in this lye water.


What else did i do?


I scythe. I use “classic” hand scythe that has been used for centuries and is still the predominant method of cutting the grass in Ukrainian villages.

The grass cuttings are gathered by me in heaps around fruit trees and berry bushes – to give them organic nutrients. Also grass cuttings go as mulch into the garden.

 When crop season is over all this plant matter is just simply dig in for winter and is let to rot directly on the plot.


Also i started building a fence.


Went to the forest to cut “pillars” and thin long branches to weave in between horizontally. This will be a traditional Ukrainian fence.


And then, i also tried to make fire by friction. Its not difficult at all – trust me, i tried it myself!


First four days it was raining hard and i havent seen a living human there – i was the only “crazy dachnik”, because noone stays there when there is bad weather! LOL!

Despite that thieves lurk and look for opportunities, so i had to have some self-defence.


Now, about the “entertainment” part.


My girlfriend visited me there


and took a daughter with her.


We had some great time there.


As i said there is a forest just across the road,



And at the bottom of the hill on which summerhouse stands there is a natural lake.


Its a pity i cant swim.


So here’s a hippopotamus in the shallow waters!


One more thing to mention: during my “holiday” i learned how little food a human really needs. Few handfulls of berried for breakfast, few pieces of pita bread in the midday, some herbal “tea” or just clean plain water and one “large” meal of boiled peas or buckwheat in the evening with green salad or raddish. That’s it.

 I quit eating sugar at all, ate very little salt and no animal protein at all. As a result i became significantly slimmer and feel “lighter”.



A bit of fun for the end:

A lizard lives under an iron barrel outside. She comes out to sunbathe often.

How do i know it is a she? Over course of days she became fatter! She is going to become a mother. A pregnant lizard! LOL!


All in all, i pretty much enjoyed the weather, beautiful scenery


and ... became a little hearier! :)




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ah, had to save blog and then continue to add pictures - spotty Internet connection.

Last years discussion

That's great you can practice now. I need to take the kids out camping, get a hang of it while the weather is warm & keep going as fall and winter come.

Andrew....that's quite the get-away-cabin...fine structure. Welcome back! Your proving to be quite the homesteader and I'm proud to know you are doing this-gives meaning to those who came before us. Hard work seems to gratify doesn't it.

Your sour weed is a type of clover, if the animals will eat it it's good enough for use for they know their toxic plants well. And for pests in the garden and your compost (odors)...use' Diatomaceous Earth' FOOD GRADE only, all you'll ever need for pests-garden and yourself -for when put into juice or water( 1tsp. to 16oz.) and drink=you will never suffer with a parasite and used to keep grains free of bugs-long term storage.

Think of purchasing some screen or small size hardware cloth to build narrow (1-2 feet width) drying racks for your herbs-beans-mushrooms  etc. can place in attic-better air flow- for newspapers can be toxic (ink) and paper (acidic). Run a dowel rod (poplar) along rafters for hanging tied herbs for drying. Garlic hanging to dry keeps many virus' at bay. 

Never dismiss the voice of an Elder for they ARE you teachers.

Continued success. Knowledge is all we can take with us so always share with others. Bless you .


Andrew, thanks for sharing some of your personal stuff with us. I think it's a great idea what you're doing. Preparation!

What you are setting up at your holiday cabin will be luxurious compared to what those not prepared for the shift will have. And I don't know about "hippo" but that water looks cold. Does the lake get very deep?

Beware of those lurking theives!! (like your arsenal)

Brilliant! Uplifting. It's great that you can do all of this.



What an absolutely SUPER role model you are!
Wowza, that was incredibly educational from a first hand perspective.
Oh this is fantastic! So inspiring, thank you Andrew!
Wow - fantastic Andrew! very inspiring!

Great job. I'm loving your garden. I've started one myself and I'm blown away by all there is to learn and do. Thanks for the inspiration and excellent images.

I am truly humbled by the sharing of your personal life and experiences.  All I could think of was 'wow!'   Thank you Andrew, it is very inspiring
Andrew : Yeah !!! Good, I was kind of concerned ... I thought you had forgotten your girlfriend. Me, I love garlic, too. I wish I could grow ginger, since it is a very good dressing for many salads, and it boosts your immune system. I am concerned about honey, though. Honey has many applications, including local treatment of wounds. It also improves the immune system, and it is the healthiest sweetener you may think of. But I don´t know how to do it in my future climate. Radishes are great, including the leaves, yum yum. I would think that, if you had some more time, you can raise hans and ducks. Also, is there any chance to lay some fish in your pond? Just thinking ... Congratulations, my friend.

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